Whirlwind Staff Founder Lamont b. Steptoe Editor Sean Lynch Art Director Melissa Rothman Outreach Coordinator Courtney Gambrell Acknowledgements Thanks to Larry Robin and Brandon Blake for printing this publication. A special thanks to Bob Zell and the Pen and Pencil for hosting our launch parties. “Property Values” appeared in J. J. Steinfeld’s book, Misshapenness (Ekstasis Editions, 2009). Lamont b. Steptoe’s “Loose Ends’ first appeared in his chapbook Crimson Rivers (Slash and Burn Press, 1984). Cover art by Melissa Rothman Copyright © 2015 by Whirlwind Magazine. All rights reserved to artists and authors. No work may be reproduced in any form without the permission of its creator. All inquiries should be addressed to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: Sean Lynch PO Box 561 Camden, NJ, 08101 Printed in Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. Submit to Whirlwind! For details visit: www.whirlwindmagazine.org/submission-info
Moon Remembers Shizue Seigel
Letter From the Editor Hello, and many thanks for reading Whirlwind issue #6. Instead of requiring a theme for this issue, we’ve gathered together a collection of diverse and urgent voices speaking on many different topics. However, there’s one common thread here, in that every work of writing we’ve published this time around just so happens to be poetry. This was only accidental, and yet it’s a happy mistake. The first poem we have for you is by a stunningly talented fifteen year old girl who lives in Canada by the name of Farah Ghafoor. Her poem “buoyancy” looks at the catastrophic effects of climate change and pollution from the view of sea creatures. The next piece is by a young Jamaican woman, Gervanna Stephens, who speaks about what it means to live in a complex environment with conflicting emotions. The next two poets, Stella Pierides and Lynn White, both reside in the United Kingdom and share with us their feelings about the current migrant crisis in Europe. Then we have Glen Wilson, an Irish poet who reflects on an experience he had witnessing poverty in Paraguay. After an extraordinary string of talent from overseas we have some impressive locals, Joe McCullough and Michelle Caporale, who give us two entertaining and intelligent manifestos on non-conformity and creativity. Then there’s San Francisco based Shizue Seigel, a past contributor from issue #5 who creates powerful images in the eyes of the downtrodden. Two Philly poets, James Feichthaler and Jennifer Schifano, have written about people on the streets. Feichthaler strikes the reader with his witty observations of a discarded slice of pizza and then examines the dichotomy of two definitions of the word bum. Schifano then moves us with her short yet powerful prose-poem about a destitute woman and her troubled past. Another Canadian poet appears to continue the theme of poverty from our last issue, as J. J. Steinfeld ironically titles his poem “Property Values.” The piece uses humor and quirkiness in order to denote the absurdity of homelessness and the state of contemporary language. Howard Winn, an emeritus professor of English at SUNY and past contributor to issue #4, offers an ode to the great Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The poem, entitled “CITY LIGHTS,” effectively explains why the aforementioned poet and publisher has been such a vital influence on American poetry. We continue the San Francisco vibe with three haiku pieces by Frank Clayton that are beautiful poems describing the geography of the mysterious West Coast city. “Song of Yourself” is another subtle Clayton poem that meditates on Walt Whitman and asks why the grey poet chose a crypt to be buried in, among other questions. The final two poems in Whirlwind issue #6 are by Rocky Wilson and Lamont Steptoe. Rocky’s “Tripping” is a commanding, allegorical piece set on a whale watching trip. Steptoe’s “Loose Ends” may have been written in the eighties, but it’s all the more relevant now in a world where violence, state oppression, and extremism run rampant. We conclude this fall issue with two reviews of brand new books by Prerna Bakshi and Dr. Mary Weems. Both Bakshi’s debut poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love and Dr. Weems’ play collection Blackeyed are available to purchase online and certainly worthy additions to your library. There’s also a review by Jim Cory, a contributor from our first issue, who has shared with us his thoughts on two poetry collections by Jack Veasey. As always, we are grateful to our contributors and readers for supporting this publication. We look forward to sharing with you our next issue on indigenous peoples, and are open to submissions for it until January 1st, 2016. Sean Lynch
Table of Contents Pg. 1 Buoyancy Pg. 2 Noise Pg. 3 The Islander Penitent Pg. 4 Shoes Pg. 5 The New Pg. 6 Washed Up Pg. 7 Man With Hammer Pg. 8 Cristo En Los Ojos Pg. 9 To Those… Pg. 10 Artists Step Out! Pg. 11 Haight Rasta Pg. 12 Raw Does Not Bleed Pg. 13 White Bread Pg. 14 The Slice of Pizza Pg. 15 The Truest Definition of a Bum Pg. 16 Residency Pg. 17 7.22.15 abstick2 Pg. 18 Property Values Pg. 19 CITY LIGHTS Pg. 20 Three Poems Pg. 21 Song of Yourself Pg. 22 Tripping Pg. 23 Loose Ends Pg. 24 Redeye Out of Courchevel Pg. 25 Review of Burnt Rotis… Pg. 26 Review of Blackeyed Pg. 27 In the World and of It… Pg. 28 The Dance/Shapely Covers Pg. 29 Landmark to the Valley Pg. 30 Biographies Pg. 32 About Pg. 33 Submission Guidelines
Farah Ghafoor Melissa Rothman Gervanna Gravity Stephens Stella Pierides Julia McElroy Lynn White Brian Shaughnessy Glen Wilson Michelle Caporale & Joe McCollough Joe McCoullough Shizue Seigel James Feichthaler Jennifer Schifano Brian Shaughnessy J. J. Steinfeld Howard Winn Frank Clayton Rocky Wilson Lamont b. Steptoe W. Jack Savage Sean Lynch Jim Cory Jack Veasey W. Jack Savage
buoyancy Farah Ghafoor
we breathe until it hurts: catching steam, constantly shedding leaving our skins in puddles to dry. folding into monsoon floods, folding ourselves over trying to absorb everything through our lungs swallowing clouds, then twisting towel-like, wishing for dehydration. it doesnâ€™t work: we attract all the opposites, the umbrellas, sandbags, boats hovering above us like a question. all the pieces we save become driftwood, sucked up by sea-monsters because we are not Odysseus. there are half as many fish in the ocean now than there were forty years ago. it is because you like to kill those who can swim better when itâ€™s only goddamn buoyancy saving us all.
Noise Melissa Rothman
The Islander Penitent Gervanna Gravity Stephens
I sit, watching from the blue, my island green dissolves into the smoke of morning. A cascade of light breaks the obsidian abyss of sky as birds cock-a-doodle-doo us awake. Salt whets the air, water breaks on rocks and teases the shoreline. I am but a lowly islander. Silent, I watch the ships come and go their ebb results in green flow for the common man no, the politician gets the green light ‘go’ away to the hills, I ponder the farms and fields, the crop yields, the stench of the animals; the sound of nature’s meat shop. The ground moist with dew, the sop-sop sopping of a shoe cries of children lazy to wake screams of parents “don’t make— mi cum in there” where is the money going to come from? Faith shelters the believing hand. And so I believe that God’s aim is not to deceive to unveil His plan to us is not a requirement. Praises wane, joy fades and thanksgivings are all the same. Worship, monotonous—forced, and the one you want is not of a colored view. Those that are do not interest you. And you pray for sin, ask with a pure heart for the wrong as you sit and watch your island Run down, into the ground, gone— dropped.
Stella Pierides This summer, papers are filling with news of migrant boats from Africa and the Middle East increasing in their numbers, sinking in droves. Hundreds of deaths each week. We poets, who put our hearts in the shoes of the hummingbird and the beggar poet, the little frog and the mighty spring thunder, the cat and the star-studded sky, are confronted with a reality hard to fathom. I find myself at a loss for words. Reading about other peopleâ€™s misfortunes, of their fleeing deserts, war, of their placing their lives and their childrenâ€™s lives in the hands of fate, of their washing up on European shores lifeless, I stop writing. My mind fills with questions: did they leave books behind? A favorite thimble, a tin soldier, a straw dolly? A mug they liked to drink from, a shady spot they loved to sit in, an icon they lit candles in front of? A carpet they knelt to pray on? Did they leave behind many beliefs, nourishing relationships, did they lose their innocence before or during the journey? What happened to their shoes? silent pines wall cracks filling with shadows
The New Julia McElroy
Washed Up Lynn White
So many dead people caught in the crossfire created by the money men, the arms traders, the super ego-ed politicians. They lie dead where they fell. Flesh and blood transformed to fertilizer to nurture the seeds and grow the crops, in a future they will not see. Their bones decaying to dust to form the building blocks of homes they will never inhabit. Dying where they fell, over there, not here and not looking like us. Unseen or soon forgotten by us here. But the dead washed up on holiday beaches look like our flesh and blood. They’re wearing our clothes. They’re washing up to haunt us in the Old World. Then there’s the living, washed up alive and by any means necessary moving on to bear witness, if any one is listening. To bring the horror home to those who created it in the Old World. Bringing it home to the Old World, but not as yet to the New.
man with hammer Brian Shaughnessy
Cristo en Los Ojos Glen Wilson
Remansito, Paraguay July 2006 The horizon stretches before me as I embrace a Y incision in a street of questions. An eight year old works barefoot on the building site, his lean muscles forged like iron rods push the barrow. His father watches at the doorway sipping from a bottle, his wife drops some saucepans and he storms inside. Streets of bamboo and bin bags sway with the breeze while brown water festers in the shallow furrows. The roads of the world pass by in clouds of spent dust, coating everything with their indifference. The bandages finally fall off, salt tears fill my eyes, compassion bleeds freely with shame.
To You Who Do What You’re Told Michelle Caporale & Joe McCullough
To you who do what you’re told To you who must always be working To you who spend your weekends doing To you who misplace value To those who never journeyed down their own road Because it looked a bit too dark or a little too winding I assure you it is not always the perfect footing But it is always the right step To you who know all the answers To you who know the worth of a dollar To you unaware of Gaia To you steps above you cat To those afraid of wholeheartedly loving Pouring their heart open to another Broken and torn apart Just letting it flow I hold my hands over your chest And beat out emerald vibes of pure peace To you with no hair out of place To you with too many locks on your keychain To you with locks on your genitals (bodies) and hearts To you waking up to plugged in screams To you fading out to PBS nostalgic tv To those who turned off the music Silenced the song And grieved that day the music died I sing my heart out Karaoke minus the lyrics on a screen An open mic-ed duet With no mike But with the echoing of joy The amplifying of happiness To you so productive destructive efficient That the light at the end of the tunnel Runs you down to cheap contentedness With the hoaxes of church and state… We await you with open arms Soft lips kind eyes And breath that has mingled With the finest flowers on earth SO EAGER TO SING YOU TO SLEEP
Artists Step Out! Joe McCullough
Artists step out! from uniformed instruction The structured suction of choices Unwilling induction into an army Of Oprah’s favorite voices Rebels be roused! From well intended planted paths That only seem to compromise Tame not your flagrant spirits Nor the flames alit in your wild eyes Dreamers awaken! From the programmed dreams of boxes Preplanned and pre-attained Let not your visions crumble Amidst the false king’s reign Yes, dreamers awaken I say! This is the time to act freely This moment could be our last chance The infinite clock is calling you To rise from the doldrums and dance
Haight Rasta Shizue Seigel
Raw Does Not Bleed Shizue Seigel
No visible damage raw does not bleed is not red except in our imagination in actual fact, no one even noticed. Feeling flayed, frozen in the headlights pinned in public by private humiliations apparently everyone is laughing. Flies do not lay eggs in our sores. They belong to someone else’s trash in actual fact, no one even noticed. It’s only the insides that suppurate. Silently leaking behind the gauze apparently everyone is laughing. We’d better smile too. We made a better world. Now enjoy it in actual fact, no one even noticed. Apparently everyone is laughing.
White Bread Shizue Seigel
The slice of pizza James Feichthaler
God, it was heaven! The greasiness of the slice Still warm and dripping on an old newspaper! The lingering aroma of the cheese, (The pepperoni, the Italian sausage), Left there to fester on a busy street -Half-eaten, chomped at, tossed into a corner! â€˜Like heavenâ€™ to the homeless man nearby, Who slurped it up, then burped it with a sigh.
The truest definition of a bum James Feichthaler
A father, who did his best but gave up young, Perennial loser, boozer, high-school grad, (A former husband to a loving wife, Who couldn’t cut the mustard in his prime), Sleeps in the street, in clothes that look like rags A mortician uses to make body-bags. And, right above him, in a cozy office, There’s a dead-beat daddy clacking at his keys, Getting in nips of Johnny Walker Red Between the conference calls and business meetings; A Harvard grad, who’s turning down the picture Of the wife he cheats on, while his boozy lips Blow kisses to his side-chick through the phone – The truest definition of ‘a bum.’
Residency Jennifer Schifano
The woman who got molested as a child is on the streets. Her body fills the space underneath a manâ€™s shirt, which is a faded shade of red with a permanent darkness under the arms. Her teeth are crooked up, and hair pushes through her chin like fence pickets. The same coarse hairs probably border each nipple. The woman who got molested has old eyes, and lines of smudgy black poke between each lash. If she stood in front of a mirror, she would see that the freckles have not faded. Now she sleeps next to her boyfriend in tents, shelters, and sometimes the motel with the red carpet. Does he touch her? When he holds her breast, does she tell him about the man who waited for her outside of the restaurant? Does she look younger when she tells him this story, still unable to understand it? Does it feel good when he feels for her and then finds her there between the two walls? Does she put herself into his hands? Or does he reach towards her from the pillow? Is there a pillow? When they walk past the blue restaurant door, does she pretend to be happy? When he squeezes her hand, her eyes shut slightly. In pleasure or in pain.
7.22.15 abstick2 Brian Shaughnessy 17
Property Values J. J. Steinfeld
“There, in front of that jewelry store,” the grandmotherly street woman said catching my hand and book bag with the thinnest fingers I’d ever seen hundred-year-old fingers, I thought though she told me a minute later she was sixty and had been a city nomad since she was fifty-seven. “There, see, is a man who ate a dictionary not out of hunger or madness but merely out of boredom.” “Oh,” I said, eager to hurry off but my hand was gripped with the strength only the nomadic have. “What’s in your bag?” she asked, tightening her grip, not trusting me to be respectful or polite. “A dictionary,” I said, half-lie but the start of a fully fanciful story and we both howled with laughter as if our homes were palatial and well looked after.
CITY LIGHTS Howard Winn
Outlasting them all he lives on into his tenth decade while drink and drugs winnow the pack year after year on the road and off they dropped from sight and sound some noticed and some lionized while he did his balancing act of his tight rope walking over their heads dizzy as many were as they sought the idealized beatitude always denied them in the end even thumbing his nose at the puritans and the law but he lived on for art poetry as the grizzled bard of the west and San Francisco winning out over the prudish and the sanctimonious to become the godfather of cogent and lucid desire.
Three Poems Frank Clayton
1. “San Francisco Embarcadero Haiku” I saw a sea lion on the dock scratching himself like a dog. 2. “In Back of Ferry Building” Statue of Gandhi truckin’ along somebody put a wreath of real flowers on his head. 3. “Double Haiku” The bay rollers are hitting the bulkhead under the dock. The sound resonates in the metal trash can bolted to the cement. Who hears this?
Song of Yourself Frank Clayton
For Walt Having read your poem, I’m perplexed as to why you chose a crypt instead of a pine box. You’re never gonna be leaves of grass under my boot-soles from in there. Unless the millennia crumble this tomb and expose your remains to the elements. The first time I visited your crypt, I was pissed that someone put you in there and prevented you from being dust to nurture the grass and blow into people’s eyes, but it was you. The first time I visited, someone had carved Jim Morrison into the tree to the left. I was pissed about that too, but not anymore. Maybe you’re snapping lines with him now. He never got to be old and grey like you. Now, many years later, the tree has grown and many have carved their names. I can hardly make out Jim’s name anymore, but it still says Walt Whitman at the top of the crypt. When I was a kid the railroad rolled past your house on its way to the river and the ferries. Was it there in your time or built afterwards... When I lived in Michigan, there were people who never heard of you. Here, since nineteen fifty seven, we have a bridge named after you. So even if some people don’t know who you were, they at least know your name. I’d like to thank whoever was behind the naming of the bridge. I’d like to thank you for singing the body electric and listening when America was singing. There’s grass under my boot-soles, but none of it’s you. I guess I’ll never know why you chose a crypt. There’s no answers, only mysteries. Love, Franko
Tripping Rocky Wilson
To get to Cape Cod the Chinese bus went through the glowing red confines of the Holland Tunnel and I saw again the whale movie that said a small child could slide through the arteries of a Blue whale. On the ship outside Provincetown harbor a troop of teens from a Jewish camp began to sing old Beatles songs. And out past the tip of the Cape with its white light house past the jokes of the guide “the Pilgrims left because of all the tourists,” past Herring Cove and the old lifesaving station at Race Point, and finally out into Stellwagen’s Whale Deli the “Come Together right now” worked and I saw the first blow. Nels, our whale, went in search of Barb and the two of them sounded together, rose together and blew together. Moments later, to everyone’s amazement, the Hebrew children in this new camp sang “We Shall Overcome” and, then, the seven stars of Harriet Tubman’s drinking gourd showed bright on the breaching whale’s stomach. Otis Reading’s “Dock of the Bay” was the encore as we walked toward town with our memories stored on the silver tongues of Nikons and throw-away Fugi’s. Pictures to be enlarged later along with the story of how the Israelites had once again led us all out of the wilderness.
Loose Ends Lamont b. Steptoe
Some relative said my life was at loose ends …frazzled…fringed…unwound like a ball of string…like a ball of confusion. As if I needed someone to tell me about loose ends… We’re all at loose ends, otherwise we wouldn’t be on this planet, in this solar system of the Milky Way Galaxy. I mean like if things were cool, we’d still be pure light. We would be harmony and beautiful smells and glorious creatures of divinity, if things were cool. If things were cool, we would be Gods! If things were cool, we wouldn’t have these bodies of flesh that lose their beauty so soon, that age and sag and wrinkle and smell and become homes for tumors and cancer. Bodies that become addicted to the substances of life, to fuel the journey back to the Sun/Son. Bodies that fall like ruined temples in the dust, shattered by the earthquakes of life. But things ain’t cool, not today or 2,000 years from yesterday, things ain’t cool. Things are hot like volcanic puke and nuclear meltdowns and oppressed tempers. Things are hot like moist go-go pussies under Xmas tree lights and stiff pricks in need of Schmidts and Millers to freeze their passion. Things are hot like Israeli sand made hotter by the brass casings of machinegun bullets, hot like PLO bombs going off in Mideast marketplaces, spilling red blood on Mesopotamian floors, hot like South African Blacks tired of white oppression, hot like Black flesh in the diamond minds of Johannesburg, hot like Irish tempers in Londonderry, hot like Philadelphia streets with no fire hydrants, hot like smoking guns from Philly cops that have just finished assassinations. And things get hotter all the time… so hot that you can’t get enough, I mean as soon as you’re finished, you need more and hell is coming to embrace the world. And still things get hotter and gasoline bombs carpet English streets to welcome the Queen and the new heirs to the throne, London ain’t seen no great fire yet in spite of bonfires from Buckingham Palace to Scotland. So getting back to the relative. Yeah I’m at loose ends, been at loose ends, will probably be at loose ends until I become wind/clouds/earth/rivers again. A million dollars won’t knit these loose ends… some things just have to unwind or snap like a watch spring broken. Anyway, I’m a poet which is to say that I’m always at loose ends according to status quo standards… I never make sense. One man’s logic is another man’s madness. Everything is so relative.
Redeye Out of Courchevel W. Jack Savage
A Review of Prerna Bakshi’s Burnt Rotis, With Love Sean Lynch
At Whirlwind we like to support our contributors even after publication. We’re honored to be a part of an international community of diverse writers and artists focused on social justice and human progress. That being said, we’re happy to announce that the talented sociolinguist Prerna Bakshi, a poet of Indian origin currently based in Macao, is publishing a collection of poems called Burnt Rotis, With Love that will be available in December through Les Éditions du Zaporogue. Prerna Bakshi graced page nineteen of Whirlwind Magazine Issue #5 with her moving poem “Let it Rain!” The title of this piece serves as a refrain at the end of each stanza, culminating in an effective repetition of the phrase. Bakshi laments at the state of her poverty stricken home-country, as well as her new adopted home in China. Through the eyes of this poet it’s apparent that the world is on the brink of environmental catastrophe. In “Let it Rain!” Bakshi beckons the sky to open up for “...the drought stricken land...” as she bears witness to the struggles of people with disabilities, children, and factory workers, as she listens to “...a farmer’s outcry…” and also the “distant scream” of indigenous people fighting “...against the state’s repressive forces.” Along with the aforementioned poem, there are over a hundred pages worth of urgent and meaningful poetry in Burnt Rotis, With Love. For the book’s themes Prerna Bakshi says that she “...will explore and interrogate the narratives of Partition of India/ Punjab post British colonialism, women’s identity, gender and class struggle. The poems in this collection will cover themes of violence, oppression, exploitation, abuse, struggle, survival and resistance.” The advance reader’s copy certainly attests to this, and it makes for a powerful read. Other highlights in the book include the dramatic “Guns and Graves,” where Bakshi writes an elegy for the many innocents killed by the Indian state in its dispute with China over a relatively unheard of area called Arunachal Pradesh. It’s poems like these that stand out to the reader, especially because they shed light on topics and events that too often remain shrouded. The further one gets into Burnt Rotis, With Love the more one begins to fall in love with not only the poems in the collection, but also the invaluable footnotes that accompany some of them. After “When the Poor Woman ‘Leans In’...” Bakshi writes that the “poem is written from a critical, Global South Marxist feminist perspective, in response to Sheryl Sandberg’s corporate feminism of ‘Lean In’ and its approach to feminism and work.” One critique of Bakshi’s work could be that she’s often very forward and unequivocal in the points of views that she displays. However, that more often than not makes her writing accessible and heightens the clarity of her poems. What’s important about Prerna Bakshi’s poetry is that it can be easily read by anyone. The messages that she delivers are vital stories about oppressed people around the world that Westerners should especially be made aware of, and it’s clear that Prerna Bakshi deserves critical praise and recognition for her brave and touching new work, Burnt Rotis, With Love.
Review of Dr. Mary Weems’ Play Collection Blackeyed Sean Lynch
Drama transforms into life when a playwright unleashes the human spirit upon the world. Dr. Mary Weems fulfills the playwright’s duty by expressing African American experiences through a collection of plays and monologues entitled Blackeyed. This book was published last year in Sense Publishers’ Social Fiction Series, and is a colossal undertaking from Weems. A plethora of human perspectives are displayed by the playwright in order to achieve this well-rounded collection of one-act plays, vignettes, and monologues, all concluding with the full-length magnum opus based on a notorious Cleveland serial killer; a play Weems aptly named “Meat.” Weems tears her community’s collective heart out in this last play, exposing the bloody innards of a seething black neighborhood. Throughout the book Dr. Weems manages to succeed in molding complex, character-driven worlds in each piece by creating the bigger picture through an individual voice at a time. A clear example of this can be seen by taking a close look at the first one-act in the collection, a play called “Hats.” In the pool hall everyone’s got a different hat - that is, everyone except Youngblood, Shorty, and God. Hard hustling DoDo wears a “...black Kangol hat, turned to the back…” Billie Slim (an Amiri Baraka fan) wears a “...black knit, urban cap…” The streetwise patriarch, Old School, wears a “stingy brim straw hat…” Cowboy fittingly wears a brown cowboy hat, and the elder Mr. T, a dental school dropout, wears a black fedora. “Hats” is set on a day where this group of pool hall regulars get together in remembrance of one of their own who recently died, a man named Triple. The hats these middle aged and older black men wear signify the adversity they’ve overcome in life and the subsequent respect they deserve. DoDo says that his grandfather gave him the Kangol hat before he enlisted in the army. “Told me it was a tradition in his family, it was a sign of being grown, a silent signal to every other Black man you meet, that you belong.” These Black men are proud of their heritage. Either through hard work or smart hustle, each character has tried their best to live a decent life, like Mr. T, who provides competent dental services to neighborhood people if they can’t afford to go to a certified dentist. In contrast, Shorty and Youngblood don’t have hats. Unbeknownst to most of the characters, Shorty was murdered by Triple in the pool hall many years before in a scene that’s dramatically staged at the beginning of the play. Weems then fluidly cuts to the present day, when Old School, a confidant of Triple who’s now in his 60’s, encounters a brash seventeen year old named Youngblood who wants to learn how to shoot pool. Old School obliges and offers his knowledge about a game called 9 ball. According to Old School, 9 ball was invented during the Great Depression when “... one night some playas got together in this hall in Detroit…” and he explains to the teenager that in those days “...Black folks were so po’ they couldn’t afford to put the ‘p’ in the word...” The theme of poverty underlies the entire play, as the characters deal with issues such as addiction, violence, and illness all aggravated by economic barriers. And yet as the action develops the audience realizes that at its core this is a ghost story, both literally and metaphorically. The pool hall is haunted. Shorty practices phantom trickery as the living tell stories of the past until the murder is finally revealed. All the while these men are stuck in the decaying neighborhood that’s becoming a ghost in itself just like the abandoned city where 9 ball was invented. These characters speak of haunting images. Young people are unaware of the history surrounding them, meanwhile the old wither away. Mental deterioration and Alzheimer’s run rampant in the present. Every character has a relative who’s now suffering from dementia. DoDo recounts a story about seeing an “...old Black man, standing in a garbage can. He didn’t have nothing on except white ankle socks and his draws.” As Cowboy starts to laugh Old School hushes him, saying that any one of them could turn out like that someday. In spite of all the foreboding talk, “Hats” is a story that ends in redemption. At the fantastical climax, where Youngblood re-enters the scene as the plot’s possessed deus ex machina, the truth finally comes out. Weems portrays that only divine intervention can break the Black man’s code, which on the surface is “what goes on in the pool hall stays in the pool hall.” This becomes a larger metaphor for black communities in cities across America. In “Hats” Weems tells us that it’s important to retain both honor and culture, but not at the forfeiture of justice. The entire book stands as a remarkable testament to African American traditions and Dr. Weems certainly deserves to have her plays produced across the country so that more people of all ethnicities can learn and celebrate the contributions and sacrifices that black people have made for this country.
The Dance That Begins and Begins, Poems 1973-2013 by Jack Veasey and Shapely by Jack Veasey
In The World And Of It: The Poems of Jack Veasey Jim Cory
Poets often have one of two different motives for writing what they do. One is to play with certain ideas, regardless of whether or not anyone else ‘gets it’ or even notices much. The other is to achieve certain effects, to create desired responses in the reader, assuming readers exist. Here’s another way to state the proposition: does the poet actually care if someone reads the poem and whether that reader thinks or feels something, or is he/she engaged in an art-for-art’s-sake activity, out of curiosity, ideology, or for some other reason, such as to extend the boundaries of the larger form, making the reader beside the point? For Pennsylvania poet Jack Veasey, these concepts are not mutually exclusive. Both come into play. But the desire to move readers is where it starts, and it starts from there because he is moved. Here we find a poet engaged in mourning, celebrating, pouring bile on the intolerant, waxing sarcastic and offering cultural commentary of depth. His subjects range widely, including cats, crime, beauty queens, drunken Santas, and relationships (male/male), plus more, and these often evoke a comedic tabloid sensibility similar to that of filmmaker/writer John Waters. Not that they’re all catty and wicked, though there’s plenty here to liven up a dull afternoon. Veasey skillfully mines his subjects for specific effects and one of the great virtues of his work is his ability to draw from across the whole emotional palette. His poems leap from sad to seriously pissed off—such as the poem about the eviction of the late underground film star and poet Taylor Mead from his Lower East Side apartment by a yuppie developer—and can be wildly funny, as in his poem about the Frankenstein monster (the monster is the speaker) or the series of pointed haiku that close his book of formal poems, Shapely. To some extent the connection he establishes results from his language. Forget the self-consciously ‘poetic’ tone of much contemporary verse, which can come across as precious. (Note: a recent Facebook post, for instance, bewailed the fact that no one in America reads poetry, without actually ever turning to the poetry that’s out there in search of the answer.) This poet writes swift, spare poems in sturdy American English. Interestingly enough, though the book of selected poems ranges across nearly four decades, no dates are given for individual poems. That makes the point that those written yesterday could’ve been written three decades back, and vice versa. The approach is consistent, the aesthetic varying far more in mood and subject than look and structure. Structural variation has to do with Veasey’s fascination with form, and he handles form adeptly enough to make the larger issue of its use appealing. Among the most successful poems are those on celebrities. These—I wish there’d been more—give a sense of how keenly Veasey sees, and diligently he records, details. You can read his poem about Gwendolyn Brooks and skip reading her biography, that’s how succinctly he establishes the modesty and grace with which that poet conducted herself. On the other hand, a side effect is that you’ll probably want to go out and track down her biography, pronto. Ditto, here, for Quentin Crisp. Veasey uses three telling details— the faint pink streaks in Crisp’s white hair, his use of formal honorifics (“Miss,” “Mrs.” etc.) in conversation, and the forever unswept apartment floor— to evoke the elderly gay muse and author of The Naked Civil Servant and establish as memorable this singularly memorable man. The word rarely used in connection with poetry anymore is pleasure. That’s a worthy purpose, truly. The pleasure of Veasey’s poetry is that its author goes where his instincts take him, that he trusts himself to write out of what he feels and always hits the mark, whether writing in sonnets or relying on a breath-based line and open form. It may be that he does so because he gets the distance between poet and subject right. He’s never too close, never too far away, which makes for an eloquence rooted in the authentic. When the reader laughs, chances are that that’s out loud and when he or she feels pain, it’s because the poet has allowed us to share his own.
Landmark to the Valley Below W. Jack Savage
Biographies Farah Ghafoor is fifteen years old and likes the way “poet” tastes in her mouth. Farah currently lives in Ontario, Canada where she enjoys smelling perfume samples and thinks she deserves a cat. Her work is forthcoming in The Waves on the Shore, TEXTPLOIT, The Chance and Stinkwaves. Find her at worrdwoman.tumblr.com. Gervanna GRAVITY Stephens is a Jamaican poet, writer, motivator and dub artist. She is a girl who believes that words hold everything together and so she writes, to express, comment and simply add to life’s grandeur. You can check her out at gervannastephens.wordpress.com. Stella Pierides (www.stellapierides.com) is a writer and poet born in Athens, Greece. She now divides her time between Neusaess, DE and London, UK. In her heart, she lives somewhere on the Aegean coast. She project manages the Per Diem: Daily Haiku for The Haiku Foundation. Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem ‘A Rose For Gaza’ was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition in October 2014 and has since been published and reprinted in anthologies by Vending Machine Press, Weasel Press and CTU among others. Poems have also recently been included in several anthologies including - Harbinger Asylum’s ‘A Moment To Live By’, Stacey Savage’s ‘We Are Poetry an Anthology of Love poems’, ITWOW, ‘She Did It Anyway’, Community Arts Ink’s ‘Reclaiming Our Voices’ and a number of online and print journals. Glen Wilson lives in County Armagh with his wife Rhonda and children Sian and Cain. He has been widely published including work in The Honest Ulsterman, Iota, Boyne Berries and The Interpreter’s House. He won the 2014 Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. He is working on his first collection of poetry. Joe McCollough and Michelle Caporale are involved with the Camden poets who participate in Rocky Wilson’s poetry readings. Shizue Seigel is a San Francisco writer and visual artist whose quest for social justice and meaningful spirituality arises from her Japanese American family. They were denied citizenship and incarcerated because of race but never lost compassion or hope. She abandoned corporate America in the 1990s to work as an outreach worker, people’s historian and mapmaker. James Feichthaler is co-founder of a group of poets called ‘The Dead Bards of Philadelphia,’ who meet to share works every 2nd Friday of the month at The Spiral Bookcase in Manayunk, and every last Monday of the month at The Bard’s pub (off Walnut St.). Quite a few of his poems have appeared in respectable E-zines and lit-mags, and quite a few of them have not. Jennifer Schifano is a graduate of Eastern University and Fairfield University, where she received her MFA in fiction. Jennifer is the 2011 recipient of the Dorothy McCollum Seibert Award for social justice in creative writing and has been published in Mason’s Road Literary Journal and riverSedge: A Journal of Art of Literature. She lives in Philadelphia, where she works with middle school English language learners, runs marathons, and writes. J. J. Steinfeld, a Canadian fiction writer, poet, and playwright living on Prince Edward Island, is the author of fifteen books, including Disturbing Identities (Stories, Ekstasis Editions),Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), An Affection for Precipices (Poetry, Serengeti Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), A Glass Shard and Memory (Stories, Recliner Books), and Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals internationally, and over forty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in Canada and the United States. A new short story collection, Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell, is forthcoming from Ekstasis Editions.
Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), Galway Review (Ireland), Antigonish Review, Southern Humanities Review ,Chaffin Review, Thin Air Literary Journal, and Futures Trading Literary Journal. His B. A. is from Vassar College. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University His doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. He has been a social worker in California and is a faculty member of SUNY as Emeritus Professor of English. Frank Clayton is a retired health inspector from Camden County NJ. However, that was just his “straight job” as he likes to say. He is a lifelong reader, writer (secret cache till now), music collector and “dabbler” musician. He prides himself on the art of relaxing, drinking beer and celebrating being alive, which he will toast with a whiskey at the drop of a hat. Rocky Wilson is the puppet laureate of Camden, NJ, as well as a substitute teacher in its schools. His debut poetry collection, “The Last Bus to Camden” will be released in early 2016. Lamont b. Steptoe is a Vietnam veteran from Pittsburgh who founded Whirlwind Press. He has published and edited well over a dozen poetry collections and has won many awards, such as the American Book Award. His work has appeared in many anthologies, such as The Oxford Anthology of African American Poetry. Jim Cory is a Yaddo, MacDowell, and Pennsylvania Arts Council Fellow. His most recent book is No Brainer Variations (Rain Mountain Press, 2011) and he lives in center city Philadelphia. W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of seven books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage (wjacksavage.com). To date, more than fifty of Jack’s short stories and over five-hundred of his paintings and drawings have been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California. Melissa Rothman is a designer and illustrator from Freehold, NJ. She graduated from the University of the Arts in 2014. She is the art director of Whirlwind Magazine. See more of her work on melissarothman.com.
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About Whirlwind Magazine Whirlwind Magazine is a quarterly limited edition print and free online literature and art journal featuring writers and artists from around the world. Our priority is to publish writers, poets, and artists who bear witness and take action to reverse social subjugation and environmental maltreatment. We aim to represent struggle in all aspects of life, whether it’s social, political, racial, sexual, gender identity related, or any issue relevant to human progress. This means that we strive toward the realization of ideals such as equality, freedom, anti-authoritarianism and mutual cooperation. Our interests and objectives include the sometimes paradoxical. We contain multitudes. Call us alternative or radical, and we won’t mind. You will find us in the whirlwind or the storm. Whirlwind’s first issue was published in the summer of 2014. Based out of Philadelphia, PA, we have our launch parties at the oldest journalist club in the country, The Pen and Pencil. We’re independent, not university based. We currently operate out of pocket, and are open to relevant advertising in order to maintain our print issues. Send all advertising queries to the editor: email@example.com
Submission Guidelines We are now open to submissions for our 7th issue focusing on indigenous peoples around the world. Especially welcome are submissions from Native Americans and indigenous peoples from other countries. The subject must be about indigenous cultures or the impact of colonialism/neo-colonialism. The deadline is January 1st, 2016. It will be released both online and in print in February of 2016. Please read the guidelines below for more information. All art submissions (we take visual art of any medium) must be sent to melissarothman1@ gmail.com in full size 300dpi, JPEG, or psd format. Send up to 3 poems, one short story, or one creative non-fiction piece of no more than 2,500 words in the body of the email to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org with the headline â€œWhirlwind Submission.â€? Please also send a succinct, 3rd person bio. Simultaneous submissions are fine, just let us know if your work gets accepted elsewhere. In general, we are looking for literature that bears witness. We believe that poetry should be weighted with purpose, and that the best writing speaks for the struggle that is necessary for progress. Shorter pieces will have a better chance. Let us know if your submission was previously published and where. We obtain rights to accepted work until time of publication, when the rights will be reverted back to the author. We only ask that you include a reference to Whirlwind in any future publications. All submissions will be responded to (yes, with feedback) within 30 days. Please do not query unless 60 days have passed. We do regret that we cannot afford to pay our contributors. However, we can pay you in the form of one contributor copy of our limited edition magazine (otherwise worth $20) if you attend our launch party. Our print editions are of the highest quality, and are only printed in one edition of 50-100 copies. We will ship magazines to contributors if they cover postage. $5.00 will do the job and can be paid via paypal or check to our mailing address. Mailing copies of the magazine to over two dozen writers and artists is not an option for us financially, so we hope that our manner of distribution is an incentive for you to join us in Philadelphia for our launch parties. You will be given ample notice of the event. Postal Submissions can be sent to the editor with SASE: Sean Lynch PO Box 561 Camden, NJ 08101
Our Fall of 2015 issue featuring poetry, art, and literary criticism.